Today I want to share with you the top 20 things we recommend you do to live a healthy life full of exuberance, performance and longevity. Neglect these at your own peril!
1. Eat a Real Food Diet
Food is fuel. It is necessary to live. But for most of us in modern society, it is a struggle centered around overconsumption. Real Food makes this a much, much, much easier ordeal. The fact is, if you are getting the bulk of your calories from restaurants or packages, you are going to struggle hard with being healthy. Period.
2. Get Tons of Sleep
I used to have clients that would look at me sideways when I would tell them that they need to sleep at least 8 hours a night. If you are one of these sleep-deprived zombies, I challenge you to try getting 8 hours a night for at least a week. You will be amazed by how you feel and where your body composition goes with this little experiment. (And you will probably soon realize that you have been in a chronic state of sleep deprivation your entire life.)
3. Practice Intermittent Fasting (IF)
Our ancestors used to live in the harsh wild without access to modern food preservation or refrigeration. Basically, this means they would often go without eating. In fact, I've long since thought about how the "3 meals a day" idea was just an invention of modern society and has no basis in actual human health. Personally, I follow the Leangains approach of a daily 8 hour feeding window followed by a 16 hour fast. Learn more at Leangains.com.
Whether you decide to follow a strict fasting protocol or not, you will benefit by skipping meals on a regular basis. Contrary to popular belief, skipping meals can actually help you you build muscle while also providing a ton of other health benefit.
4. Eat Slow and Chew Your Food Thoroughly
Slowing how fast I eat has done WONDERS for me. I used to inhale food like a whale gobbling up plankton. I would just swim right through the food until it was gone in a matter of minutes. Eating slow enables some important triggers for weight loss:
- You reduce the insulin spike that is inherent when you eat calories by slowing the release that the food hits your blood stream. And in case you didn't know: more insulin = more fat storage.
- You eat less. Eating slow makes you feel full faster and avoid taking in extra calories. We all hate that full, bloated feeling. That is the result of eating too fast and not allowing the full trigger enough time to tell your brain to put down the fork!
5. Cook Your Food at Home
Restaurant food is universally bad. Restaurants use cheap salt, sugar, sauces, thickeners, stabilizers and all kinds of other unnatural crap to reduce costs, stay profitable, and keep the food highly addictive. When the average restaurant margin is well under under 5%. You better believe they are doing everything they can to cut corners and save on food costs. And when this happens, you are the one that gets stuck with the health bill.
6. Don't Drink Calories
Drinking calories elicits a similar negative response on insulin levels that eating your food too fast does. The calories enter your blood stream too quickly and cause an overload of insulin. We are made to chew our food. Avoid drinking calories in any form.
7. Go Completely Gluten-free
This can be life changing. Clean out your pantry and be super picky when eating out (say no to the free bread). This could be the missing link to that lean body you've been trying to achieve.
8. Don't Snack
Snacking is the bane of weight loss. One of the main reasons Intermittent fasting is beneficial is because it regulates your hormone levels and it balances your body between the fasted and fed states. Your body is made to burn fat when in the ‘fasted’ state and made to store calories when in the ‘fed’ state. Every time you put calories in your mouth you are entering the ‘fed’ state and thus shutting off your bodies ability to burn fat by introducing glucose and insulin into your bloodstream. Next time you grab that bag of almonds thinking it’s a healthy snack, think again; you are actually doing your body a disservice.
Eat only during your meal times.
9. Take High Quality Fish Oil With Every Meal
Fish oil contains omega-3’s that help to balance out the omega-6’s that are prevalent throughout our modern diets (especially processed foods). Correcting this balance provides a major benefit to the body, especially weight loss.
10. Take Vitamin D or Get Sunlight Every Day
This could be the missing link in your program. Vitamin D is a necessary hormone in the human body. It is involved in too many processes in your body to neglect. Take a vitamin D soft-gel or get 20 minutes of sunlight every day without exception.
11. Reduce Stress At All Costs
Do everything you can to reduce stress. When you get angry, stressed, or freak-out about something, it is like taking a bite out of a candy bar. Stress releases cortisol and insulin into your blood stream just like taking a bite of your favorite candy bar. As we discussed earlier, the extra release of insulin halts fat-loss and promotes fat-gain (and cortisol can screw things up as well).
Take a chill pill and BREATHE.
12. Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness is the act of focusing on a single object or task and turning off the rest of the noise (thoughts, worry, stress) going through your head. This will help in lowering cortisol and insulin levels. Our hormones get all out of whack as a result of our mind tormenting us with worry, stress, anger, resentment, jealousy, and all kinds of other stuff we shouldn't be worrying about.
Techniques for being mindful include: Counting your breath (breath meditation), sitting in a quiet place with the goal of emptying the mind (meditation), going outdoors and focusing on the sights and sounds and tuning out the rest (a form of mediation).
Recommended books: The Power of Now Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind
13. Eliminate Sugar
Sugar is the absolute worst thing you can eat. Remember, fat doesn't make you fat. Sugar, seed oils, and processed grains are what make you fat and sick.
14. Eat High-Quality Fat
Fatty fish, grass-fed beef, lamb, bison, coconut oil, olive oil (I prefer it unheated), Kerrygold butter, avocado oil, macadamia oil, ghee, lard (make your own), tallow (make your own).
15. Eat High-quality Animal Products and Seafood
Keywords include: grass-fed, free range, pastured, organic, all-natural, hormone-free, humanely raised, family farms, local.
16. Perform Resistance Training ~3 Times a Week
You probably already know why this is beneficial. Just do it.
17. Perform High-Intensity Conditioning ~3 times a week
Think intervals; short, fast, and hard. Avoid long distance and moderate paced training as the bulk of your training (it's useful only sometimes).
18. Walk Everywhere
Take the stairs, park at the end of the parking lot, walk the long way. Our ancestors walked an average of 13 miles a day while most of us walk about two and a half. Sad.
19. Play sports
Great for overall health, mental relief, muscle building, mobility, social development, etc. We have been playing games since the dawn of man.
20. Get outdoors as much as possible
Getting outdoors has been proven over and over again to be good for health and longevity.
Well, there you have it, the top 20 ways to live a healthy life.
Yours in Health,